Velazquez- Las Meninas: Analysis and Interpretation
Diego Velazquez
Velazquez's selfportrait
Velazquez's Las Meninas is a portrait of Infanta Margarita, the daughter of King Philip IV. This article focuses on the way Velazquez painted Infanta Margarita's psychological perplexity in front of the large window of his studio. It also focuses on Infanta Margarita's beauty, her intelligence, and above all her interest in the beauty of the visible world!
Las Meninas
By Diego Velazquez

Fig. 4. Velazquez - Las Meninas, detail of dona Maria de Sotomayor, showing Velazquez's free brushwork on her dress
Velazquez - Las Meninas: Interpretation
In the context of the painting, Joel Snyder (June 1985, p.571) argues that the scene is the end of the royal couple's sitting for Velazquez and they are preparing to exit, therefore, he concludes, that is "why the menina to the right of princes Margarita begins to curtsy." He also suggests that Nieto appears in the doorway so that the king and queen might depart.  Svetlana Alpers (Feb., 1983) in her article: Interpretation without Representation, or, the Viewing of Las Meninas Representations, No. 1. pp.   30-42, suggested a different scenario. She wrote: The little Infanta “has dropped in to see Velazquez at work, stops to ask her maid of honor for a drink of water and looks up when surprised by the unexpected entrance of her parents, the king and queen.”
From the various interpretations (scenarios) that have been suggested so far I think that Svetlana Alpers’s suggestion is closer to the
truth but it is too limited in scope. I believe that Velazquez wanted a suitable position for Nieto in the royal couple’s portrait but he also wanted extra light at the rear of the painting. Nieto was the queen's attendant and was required to be at hand to open and close doors for her. Therefore, his figure at the entrance of the doorway seems to be the most suitable position for him but at the same time the doorway offers extra light to the rear of the painting. If that is correct than his figure at the entrance of the doorway does not signal the end of the royal couple's sitting for Velazquez and therefore they are not preparing to exit. As we will see later on, Infanta Margarita’s behavior at the center of the painting has nothing to do with any kind of departure.



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Velazquez - Las Meninas, detail of dona Maria de Sotomayor, showing Velazquez's free brushwork on her dress Fig. 4. Velazquez - Las Meninas, detail of dona Maria de Sotomayor, showing Velazquez's free brushwork on her dress



Velazquez - Las Meninas, detail
Fig. 3. Velazquez - Las Meninas, detail.
George Konstantinidis